Owed, is a book with celebration at its center. Its primary concern is how we might mend the relationship between ourselves and the people, spaces, and objects we have been taught to think of as insignificant, as fundamentally unworthy of study, reflection, attention, or care.
Themes of praise and debt pervade this rhapsodic, rigorous poetry collection, which pays homage to everyday Black experience in the U.S. Poems like 'The Book of Mycah' and 'Owed to the Plastic on Your Grandmother’s Couch' exalt childhood memories, but also bear witness to oppression and loss. Bennett’s devotionals are demands, too: 'The Next Black National Anthem' and 'America Will Be,' along with a series called 'Reparation,' riff on the idea of compensation for historical and ongoing harm. Bennett conjures a spirit of kinship that, illuminated by redolent imagery, borders on mythic, and boldly stakes claim to 'some living, future / English, & everyone in it / is immortal.'
Owed , his second collection, reinforces this rookie preeminence by proffering more of his virtuosic technical skill, subtle wit, and cinematographic eye for vibrant scene-setting ... The substance of these masterfully wrought poems aren’t always pretty. Every exquisitely crafted line reflects the pull of a threatening body politic, the gravitational force of history. Nevertheless, there are moments of transcendence, the result of Bennett’s alchemical ability to turn the raw pulp of life into exquisite verse ... Bennett’s allegiance to radical honesty, along with bone-deep commitment to the people who raised him, has shaped his unique voice ... Bennett’s poems don’t shy away from precisely rendering the ugliness of world as it is, but they also know how and when to offer some respite, a moment of grace.
Occasionally, Bennett stretches his similes or overwrites, when less detail would have made the work more powerful. In the end, however, not only are these poems eloquent but also lyrical, intelligent, and, occasionally, funny. Most reflect upon and communicate the pain, joy, and intensity of the current Black experience ... In a time when many confront and protest the racism prevalent in our society, Bennett’s new book is vital.